And your next District 112 superintendent is?
You could know soon.
"Ken (Dragseth) and I feel very strongly about who we are presenting to you. We have a very strong pool of candidates for you," said School Exec Connect's David Clough in a special May 4 school board meeting.
Eight candidates were interviewed Tuesday, May 5 and Wednesday, May 6, beginning at 5 p.m. over audio call (After this week's edition of the newspaper went to press). These interviews are available for the public to listen to at www.district112.org/school-board.
Based on focus group recommendations from March, 16 applicants were identified by School Exec Connect, including 10 current superintendents. Ten were from Minnesota, with two each from Iowa and Wisconsin, and one each from Missouri and Wyoming. Five of the 16 applicants were female.
School Exec Connect led the District 112 school board through the hiring process in 2016 with Clint Christopher, then associate superintendent, being picked among 20 candidates for the district's top job. Many of those same board members remain for the 2020 process, with Christopher returning to his home state of Iowa for a new position.
"We had trouble getting it down to six candidates," said Clough, a former District 112 superintendent. "(Board member Lisa Anderson) said why not bring all eight in then."
The candidates are:
Dr. Jeff Ridlehoover, assistant superintendent, Mounds View
- Three years in current role; former principal in Mounds View and Wayzata districts
Ron Wagner, associate superintendent, Minneapolis
- Five years in current role; former principal, assistant principal and math teacher. Recently was one of three finalists for superintendent position in Duluth.
Lisa Sayles-Adams, assistant superintendent, North St. Paul-Maplewood-Oakdale)
- One year in current role. Former principal and assistant principal in St. Paul. Former superintendent finalist in 2019 for Osseo-Maple Grove Area Schools.
Dr. Michael Funk, superintendent, Albert Lea
- Eleven years in current role. He was the superintendent at BOLD (Bird Island-Olivia-Lake Lillian) for four years as well. Former high school principal and teacher. Funk served for 30 years in Minnesota National Guard, retiring as colonel. He was runner-up for the Duluth Schools superintendent position in March.
Jeff Holmberg, assistant superintendent, Prior Lake-Savage
- Eight years in current role. He is the only candidate from 2016 search to be interviewed for 2020 position opening. He received high marks on equity and the ability to pass a referendum.
Dr. Mark Bezek, Superintendent, Somerset (Wisconsin)
- Four years in current role. Previously spent 10 years as a superintendent in Elk River-Rogers-Otsego-Zimmerman and five years in Fergus Falls. Described as having "united the community." He has 38 years of experience as an instructor, principal and superintendent.
Kristine Wehrkamp, Associate Director Community Education, Robbinsdale Area
- Four years in current role. Previously was director of Community Education at White Bear Lake Schools for three years and spent eight years in the St. Paul Public Schools as an Adult Basic Education Program supervisor. She was runner-up in superintendent search in Thief River Falls in February.
Dr. Ryan Laager, Superintendent, Belle Plaine
- Five years in current role. Former high school principal in Stillwater. Described as being gifted with curriculum instruction with a 21st century vision. He was a finalist for the Osseo-Maple Grove superintendent position in 2019, as well as a runner-up for the Burnsville-Eagan-Savage job that same year.
The first interviews will determine which candidates will move forward to a second round of interviews, tentatively set for May 11-14. The board is expected to have two or three finalists. Each finalist will spend a day in the district, meeting virtually with advising groups, as well as a second visit with the school board.
A final decision on the next superintendent of District 112 should arrive in the next two weeks, with a hire date of July 1.